Workplaces will always be filled with a certain amount of conflict because people who work together don’t always like each other or get along. While professionalism is expected, it is not necessarily guaranteed. This is especially true when someone pulls the I’m-the-boss card.
Statistics show the No. 1 reason employees leave their jobs is bad bosses. While some people may put up with the stress and discontent of a bad manager, it’s generally only because of the need for income. The younger generation, the millennials, is even less tolerant. The statistics on employees leaving due to bad bosses are likely to worsen, especially when the post-millennials, those part of Generation Z, enter the workforce. This type of management will become less and less acceptable with each new generation that enters the workplace.
How can companies know when conflict is present between supervisors and employees? Here are seven signs that might just be the tip of the iceberg.
1. Orders Vs. Discussion: If bosses just bark out order after order and there is minimal two-way conversation, conflict often underlies the relationship.
2. Schedule Vs. Flexibility: If supervisors are rigid, impose their preferred schedule and won’t entertain any accommodations, then insecurity, control and poor-supervisory skills are in play.
3. Peers Vs. Experts: If employees sense unresolved issues with their supervisor with no hint of change on the horizon, they will not hesitate to create smart mobs with their peers rather than deal with the boss.
4. Avoidance Vs. Cooperation: If bosses and employees spend work hours avoiding each other instead of working together, conflict might be the reason.
5. Daily Vs. Annual: If bosses neglect to provide regular, daily feedback and only use the formal, annual assessment, conflict might be the issue.
6. Technology Vs. Face-to-Face: When there is a heavy use of technology and an avoidance of in-person interaction, and when supervisors aren’t getting what they want, conflict is hindering effective communication.
7. Reign Vs. Independence: If bosses use their position to control their employees by reigning over them in with policies and procedures, control and conflict may be causing them to stifle independence and creativity.
These seven signs seem obvious but they can be subtle and often exist for long periods because bosses justify or explain their actions with good reasoning and rationale. Decision-making and conduct can always be defended when it is perceived to be for the betterment of the team or company.
Diligence and speaking up are keys to addressing conflict and diminishing the prevalence of these symptoms of conflict with supervisors. Unfortunately, even when employees would like to speak up and need to, they usually don’t because they fear reprisal, being fired or worse treatment in the future.
Therefore, responsibility lies with bosses and their supervisors to recognize leadership problems and poor tactics. Some bosses may never be willing to look at their own skills to find the issues, so having tools can be helpful.
If conflict and a lack of communication and interaction skills are getting in the way of being a good boss, now is a great time to begin training and resolving the past issues and present biases. Stop bad bosses from doing more damage and causing more conflict, stress and resignations.
Author Pam Paquet is the founder of Pam Paquet & Associates Performance Management in Canada. Learn more at www.thepossibilities.ca.
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